Students Gain TV News Experience

'Public Eye News' at WNMU-TV

Northern Michigan University multimedia journalism students have abundant opportunities for TV news internships and employment, with four commercial stations in the local market. The public television station on campus also broadcasts the student-led production Public Eye News (PEN), which introduces them to the diverse skills required for the industry.

“As an adviser for WNMU-TV's Public Eye News, it is exciting to see how many active PEN members and other NMU undergraduates are working in paid television news positions across Marquette,” said Mike Settles, producer and host of WNMU-TV. “The newest station, WZMQ 19, created an unprecedented opportunity for NMU students with multimedia education and training.

"That's not to say there haven't been challenges, as students try to balance full class loads and their studies with many hours at work. I am so impressed with every one of them. And, I think it says a lot about the unique professional opportunities available to NMU's multimedia and communication studies majors.”

WZMQ 19 got its start working out of Peter White Public Library before eventually moving downtown on Washington Street. The station's initial crew was almost entirely made up of NMU students.

“It benefits both the students, who gain practical experience while they earn a paycheck, and it benefits the university as students continue to grow professionally and add to their classroom experience,” said Brian Trauring, WZMQ's executive vice president. “We're proud of our student employees. They work hard, produce excellent work and have great attitudes.”

There are three other commercial stations that provide related opportunities for NMU students: WBUP, WJMN and WLUC. For example, WLUC TV 6 News has an internship program that allows students to learn how to operate cameras, do field reporting, edit videos, and eventually create their own package to air live. Northern's multimedia journalism students are getting the experience they need, and other news stations are starting to notice.

“We can't keep up with the demand; we regularly receive calls and emails from media outlets all over the Midwest seeking our students,” said NMU Multimedia Journalism Professor Dwight Brady. “We have former students reporting from state capitals and our nation's capital, along with students doing production work for sports networks and live sporting events.

“I'm in my 26th year as a professor, and I have never seen this kind of demand for multimedia journalists and production staff. I think one of the reasons our students are in demand is the opportunity to apply what they learn in the classroom through Public Broadcasting, Radio X, The North Wind, University Marketing and Communications and paid internships at local media outlets. They leave NMU well prepared.”

WNMU's Public Eye News has been around since 1972, and has been a way for students to try their hand at multimedia journalism even if they're going to Northern for a different major. For example, WZMQ 19 Technical Director and Megan Tarcea was a student in Northern's Earth, Environmental and Geographical Sciences Department when she started doing weather reports for the program, and she is now a producer.

“Once I did the weather on air, I thought it was great and fun,” said Tarcea. “So then I started anchoring. With that, I started writing stories. I really liked that aspect. It was also great just getting to know the U.P. Once I got involved with basically every position at PEN, that's when the adviser reached out to me and said they were interested in having me be a producer. I never expected to do anything like that, but I said, ‘Okay, that could be cool, why not?'”

Through PEN, Tarcea was able to gain more experience with both reporting and technical sides of journalism before being given the opportunity to work at WZMQ 19 when it first opened. She and a few other students the station hired would go out in the field, write stories, edit videos, and other professional journalist duties while still attending Northern. She's planning to continue her work at PEN this coming school year with new ideas on how to make the station even better.

“It's really cool to be able to take that knowledge I learned from WZMQ and now we're trying to apply it to Public Eye News,” said Tarcea. “We're trying to expand this fall. We have cameras that we're able to start sending students out into the field with, just like if they worked at any of the local stations. We have a lot here in the Marquette area, considering its size. Any student at Northern could get their hands on a job, but PEN is really that stepping stone to get involved. It was definitely my only way of getting involved in WZMQ for sure.”

There are too many students and alumni working in TV news in Marquette to provide an exhaustive listing. Based on recent counts, at least nine students are employed with paid positions. For more information on Northern's communication and media studies programs, click here.

Students in the control room for 'Public Eye News'
Students in the control room for 'Public Eye News'
'Public Eye News' in the 1970s
'Public Eye News' in the 1970s
Prepared By

Ian McCullough
Student Writer

Categories: Around NMU